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Experience with Medical System Description
A person who has experienced sexual violence may become involved with the medical system. This includes coming in contact with physicians, sexual assault nurse examiners, and rape crisis center advocates, as well as receiving medical services such as a rape kit exam.

The experience of seeking medical assistance after an act of sexual violence may be intimidating. Some hospitals have nurses specially trained to collect evidence from rape victims.

A rape kit is a standard kit that contains boxes, microscope slides, and plastic bags for collecting and storing evidence. This process preserves evidence so that it may later be tested for DNA and used in court. The process involves collecting evidence left on the body and clothing, including hair and fibers.

Writing Prompts
ďWhen I walked in to get the rape kit, I feltÖĒ
ďThe doctor made me feelÖĒ
ďThere was an advocate from the rape crisis center at the hospital andÖĒ

Jenna from Minneapolis, Minnesota| 25-April-07
For Christmas 1996, I was given a bed set complete with sheets, pillowcases and a comforter all decorated in abstract cats. I was eleven years old. Ten years later, that bed set still covers my bed at my parentsí house. I will never forget those cats and the design they were laid in. I remember how I traced the pattern over and over again with my right index finger on that day. My movement was jerky but continuous. It was soothing. It gave me purpose. I traced those lines over and over, never lifting my finger from the comforter.

Itís odd, really. I donít quite remember anything in vivid detail before I sat on my bed. I couldnít tell you if I took off my shoes when I got home. I couldnít tell you if I greeted my pets or if they greeted me. I cannot recall if I went straight into my bedroom or was sidetracked along the way. I just remember sitting down on my bed, looking at those cats and tracing.

No matter how hard I think about it, I still canít recollect who I called initially. In fact, I donít even know how the phone got in my hand. Logic tells me I phoned Christa first because she came over right away. I know I told her what had happened and I know I traced the entire time I talked, I just canít remember if I told her over the phone or in person. I know that when she hugged me, I didnít cry and I didnít lift my finger. My parents were called, I know that, I just donít know in which order. My brotherís girlfriend was also called at some point. The conversations I had with them all seem a complete blur. Itís almost as if I was drugged because I donít remember dialing any numbers or what was said. I just remember the cats. It was a sunny day outside. I remember that now, too. The sun shone through my blinds, onto my cats and onto my finger. I never looked up. I never looked at Christa. I donít know if she looked at me with pity or sympathy or fear. I just know those cats had to be traced. I couldnít stop tracing the cats. Eventually my brotherís girlfriend came over and took me to the hospital. I donít know how I said good-bye to Christa, if I did. I have no clue which route we took to the emergency room. I donít know how long the two of us sat in the waiting room before my mother showed up. I might have talked to either woman but Iím not sure. I do know my finger kept moving on my pant leg, as if I could see the cats in my denim.

After a while they moved the three of us to a different waiting room, one that was more private as if to protect me now when it was too late. Finally, I was taken into an exam room. I donít recall the doctors or the nurses. I donít know the questions they asked or the answers I gave. I know I undressed and got beneath a flimsy paper blanket. It seemed to be some sort of canvas for me. As soon as I was under it, I began drawing the now familiar cats with my finger as my medium. At some point my father showed up. Later, my own doctor appeared. Throughout the entire ordeal-the rape exam, the officer taking my statement, my motherÖgod, my mother-I drew those cats.

I do remember other things besides the cats and their pattern. These things have crept up when Iím right on the cusp of dreaming. Mostly, what I remember is my mother: things she said to me at the hospital, the way she looked at me in the exam room, her complaints to the medical staff about the lack of privacy. I remember that the only time I stopped tracing my invisible cats on the hospitalís blanket was when she asked me how many men I had slept with. Nothingís clear, though. The only thing I am hundred percent sure of is those cats.

Iíve gone through hours of therapy. Iíve retold the story numerous times. Iíve been taught to decipher each thought, each feeling that I had during the ordeal and that day afterwards. Iíve learned that the only thing worse than being a rape victim is being a rape survivor. Yet still the first image that comes to mind when I think of the rape is the cats and my finger tracing them. To this day I donít remember the actual assault or the day that preceded it. In fact, now, only a year and a half later, I cannot recall exactly what he looked like. I just remember those cats. I will always remember those cats.